A new season, new challenges, and a new car. Today, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team unveils its 2023 contender, the Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance.
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Forged in the learnings of a difficult 2022, the W14 is striking in its appearance. The underlying concept of the W13 has been retained, and development has focused on core performance areas. That has led to a car that keeps the distinctive DNA of its predecessor and introduces a combination of notable changes visible on first inspection – such as the gulley bodywork on the engine cover – and others beneath the surface.
The car’s arresting look isn’t limited to the architecture, either. As part of a big project to make the car lighter overall, the iconic black paint job from 2020 to 2021 has been improved. Driving the W14 will be Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who line up for their second season together, supported by Mick Schumacher in his role as third driver.
“Our hopes and expectations are always to be capable of fighting for a World Championship. However, our competitors were solid last year, and we are playing catch-up,” said Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, Toto Wolff. “Racing at the front requires resilience, teamwork, and determination. We face up to every challenge, we put the Team first, and we will leave no stone unturned in the chase for every millisecond. This year, we are all in to get back in front.”
A Refined Concept
“Last year was difficult, but it came with lots of learning,” Toto commented. “I hope 2023 will be proof that we have understood how to unravel the problems and improve the package of the car.”
“W13 certainly had a performance that we could never unlock and put all its downforce on the ground. Our car performed very well at the end of the season. However, we still had the famous bouncing at some circuits, and the car never gave the drivers good feedback, which limited them in being able to push. We have tried to keep all the goodness of the W13 and address its weaknesses,” he continued.
The challenge of unlocking the performance in last year’s car while troubleshooting the problems that the Team could address in-season was met head-on by both Brackley and Brixworth. Notably, the development over the year led to a memorable one-two finish at the São Paulo Grand Prix. The progress throughout 2022 excites Technical Director Mike Elliott.
“Last year, once we had figured out what we needed to do, it took a huge amount of work to get ourselves moving forward. Towards the end of the season, you could see the performance improvement, and the winter has been a reset. We have done all the things that we wanted to do with the W13 last year but weren’t able to because of resource constraints or because our focus was elsewhere fixing other issues,” he said.
Areas targeted include reducing overall weight, giving the drivers a more consistent car balance across the speed range, and better matching the aerodynamic characteristics to the demands of the aero regulations. This is borne out in areas such as a significantly lighter chassis, revised front suspension geometry, cooling system adjustments and an advanced aerodynamic concept based on last year’s learning.
“With this generation of cars, the performance is all in detail. When you look at the W14, you will see the DNA of the W13 but also a lot of evolution and detail improvement,” Elliott added.
All in Performance
“Our colours going forward will be silver and black.” So said Toto at the launch of last year’s car, and for 2023, the Team returns to the latter in the name of performance. Hitting the weight limit is a significant challenge with this generation of cars, and the Team has taken inspiration from the legendary creation of the original Silver Arrows. However, instead of stripping back paint to shiny aluminium beneath, it will be sleek black carbon fibre on the W14.
“We were overweight last year. This year, we have tried figuring out where to squeeze out every gram. So now, history repeats itself. You will see that the car has some raw carbon bits and some painted matte black. Of course, when we changed the livery in 2020, the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our hearts. The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it,” Toto commented.
The historical links don’t end there, however, with the black livery echoing the 1993 Sauber C12. That car utilised ‘Concept by Mercedes’ power and signalled the three-pointed star’s return to the pinnacle of motorsport for the first time since 1955.
Incoming freeze and reliability fixes
Thirty years on from the creation of the Brixworth-built engine that saw Mercedes re-join Grand Prix racing, the factory in Northamptonshire is once again a hive of activity. With the Power Unit hardware freeze in effect, the focus has shifted to two key areas: reliability and software.
“It’s the busiest time of year,” said Hywel Thomas, Managing Director of Mercedes AMG High-Performance Powertrains (HPP). “We’ve got the final performance software freeze of this regulation cycle ahead of the start of the season, so that’s been a lot of work. We have found the most performance recently through how we use the engine, which means software upgrades. Knowing that it is the final opportunity for development has ensured it’s been a real push to pack in as much work as possible.”
The challenges presented by the W13 weren’t limited to the chassis, either. The effect of the bouncing on the Power Unit was of concern, and reliability fixes have been implemented. “By the end of the season, the engines were battered and bruised,” Hywel continued. “We have looked at the design changes made on the chassis, along with those on the engine, and done the work as a team. The biggest changes on the Power Unit this year are the reliability items to make ourselves more robust if we find the W14 hitting the ground.”
Diversity driving performance
The Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E PERFORMANCE was unveiled at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport, earlier today. Helping launch our car were members of our latest cohort of Team apprentices and PETRONAS interns. The Team’s commitment to building a more diverse workforce remains a significant priority. Our apprenticeship, intern schemes, and Accelerate 25 have aided considerable progress. But there is still more work to be done.
“It’s fantastic to have some of our 2023 apprentices and PETRONAS interns help us launch this year’s car. It is a reminder of the Team we aspire to become. Our commitment to becoming a more diverse and performant organisation is unwavering, and we are pleased with our steps,” Toto said.
The Accelerate 25 programme formalises our ambition of at least 25% of all new team members coming from under-represented groups. Since launching two years ago, our percentage of female employees has risen from 12% to 16%, with team members from a minority ethnic background growing to 9% from 3% as of January 2023.
“These numbers are positive developments, and we aspire to more. Two years after the launch of Accelerate 25, now is the right time to reflect; we can be pleased with our progress and must be clear about moving forward. Our focus is not just on recruitment but also on retaining and developing our diverse talent. We will continue pushing to achieve our aims in this area,” Toto said.
The year ahead
Reliability, correlation, and learning will focus on pre-season testing in Bahrain. An efficient and successful test is imperative with just three days of running before the first race weekend of the season.
“We never really got on top of the car balance last year. All the everyday work we do at the beginning of the season didn’t happen because of the problems we were trying to rectify,” Mike commented. “We’ve got to learn as much as we can, to work out how to get the most performance out of the car and what we can learn to feed into the next developments.”
“The chassis side has got an enormous amount of work that they want to complete to learn,” added Hywel. “We need to be in the background doing our job and helping rack up the mileage.”
That symbiotic relationship between Brackley and Brixworth was crucial to the Team’s progress last year. “We worked together, worked out how to take what we have on both sides and improve in all areas. It’s exciting to see the result of that continued closeness this year.”
Toto added: “The entire organisation was pushing flat out last year. We mobilised every reserve when we realised the car wasn’t where we wanted it to be. That never stopped throughout the season. We are now getting ready to start the next season. I see so much effort, motivation, and energy in the organisation to launch a car that will eventually be competitive enough to fight at the front of the grid.”
That energy is something that inspires both Lewis and George. “I have been a part of this team for over a decade, and the efforts of everyone never cease to amaze me,” Lewis commented. “I find it inspiring how diligently and passionately each person approaches their work.”
George added: “I have been incredibly impressed with how the Team developed the car throughout last season. We have been building momentum throughout 2022, and we’re excited to see how that has progressed over the winter.”
And what about their initial thoughts on the W14? George continued: “Aesthetically, it looks great! It’s bold, aggressive and stands out.” Lewis added: “To see the evolution of the car and the changes that have been made is fascinating. We’ve redesigned, optimised, and innovated many parts of the car, which is impressive. And I love the W14 new livery! It says, ‘we mean business’.”
Last season we brought George’s maiden pole position and Grand Prix victory. He is eyeing further successes this year and is raring to go. “It’s been a long winter, and there’s plenty of anticipation to see if the W14 meets our expectations. I’m excited, and while there’s a lot of talk at this point in the season, we now need to see how we perform when the car takes to the track.”
For Lewis, the motivation within burns bright as he looks to return from the first winless season in his career. “I’m excited to go racing again. I feel calm and energised, and I have my focus sharpened. I’m ready to do what’s necessary to win.”
Lewis and George begin their second season together as teammates, but there’s a change in Reserve Driver for 2023. Mick Schumacher joins the Team after two years as a race driver at the Haas F1 Team. The 23-year-old German said: “I’ve always felt very close to Mercedes. I am delighted to be a part of the Team, and I know how important my role will be in aiding the development of the W14. I am committed to giving it my all to contribute to our performance in this competitive environment.”
Continued commercial growth
The sport’s growth continues apace; a race in Las Vegas, the third of three Grands Prix in the United States this season, record-breaking attendance figures, and a new season of Drive to Survive launching shortly. “Formula One is going from strength to strength around the globe. I think it is doing so because we are providing good content. Proper racing, interesting personalities, and the odd controversy on and off the track,” Toto said.
That boom in interest has been mirrored in the continued strength and expansion of our partner ecosystem, and the Team is now one of the leading global sports franchises in terms of commercial revenue.
The renewal of our Title and Technical Partnership with PETRONAS from the 2026 season onwards was announced late last year, sending a clear message. “Our Team and PETRONAS are no longer just partners, we are family, and we will be one Team for many more years to come. We are excited to be racing into the future alongside PETRONAS, with the ambition to set the standard again in our on-track performance and by pioneering the transition of a global sports team to a net-zero future.”
Today, we announce the latest innovators to join our partner family. US multinational Qualcomm Technologies has agreed on a multi-year agreement with the Team to promote its Snapdragon brand. The strategic collaboration will leverage the Snapdragon platform’s power to benefit the Team and our global fanbase. We also welcome Abu Dhabi-based technology group G42, which champions artificial intelligence (AI) as a powerful force for good to enhance and improve people’s abilities and lives.
They are the latest global players to begin partnerships with the Team ahead of the 2023 season following four recently announced deals. Solera, the worldwide leader of vehicle lifecycle management and payments technology company Nuvei, have agreed on multi-year partnerships. Einhell, a leading manufacturer of state-of-the-art cordless power tools and garden equipment, becomes the Team’s ‘Official Tool Expert’. Meanwhile, Sherwin-Williams joins as the approved supplier of automotive paint and coatings to the Team’s F1 cars.
Richard Sanders, Chief Commercial Officer of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, said: “The growth of F1 globally is reflected in the ever-increasing interest from world-class brands and innovative companies to join our partner ecosystem. We’re proud to be adding to the excitement of the W14 launch day by welcoming both Snapdragon and G42. They join several other fantastic brands we have partnered with ahead of the 2023 season, and we look forward to working closely with them and our long-standing partners throughout the year.”